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A (Very) Big Hello

Hi everybody, and welcome to what we hope will become your first stop for the latest FIFA news. I’m Chris Davies (known as Chris Bauer / Jack Bauer across several forums, most prominently on Evo-Web.co.uk), and all of us here at FSB will be working together to bring you the very latest on what looks to be the best FIFA – and the best football game – to date (and as a hardcore Pro Evo fan of eight years, I’m absolutely gobsmacked to be saying that, but what a great game this is turning into).

I’d like to introduce myself properly now with a brief history of my football gaming CV, before anyone thinks that I’m one of those fanboys that chooses one game, sticks to it and then praises each version before it’s even released. We all know someone like that, unfortunately.

Well, first thing’s first; my first football game was Sensible World Of Soccer (SWOS). Hundreds upon hundreds of teams, thousands of players, and a career mode that could last you for years – in-fact, the game did last me for years, and no matter what the latest game was I knew that at some point I would go back to SWOS for a quick blast on the career mode. Ah my beloved Tranmere, you will reach the Premiership one day… I’d flirted with FIFA, but there seemed to be a lack of depth, and I am the kind of gamer who demands realistic gameplay in everything he plays – suddenly, the magazines were raving about a game called ISS Pro Evolution for the PSone, and I had to try it. I was in love. Great gameplay, incredible for its time, and I was hooked. Each year the game would improve, and even though one of my favourite elements of a football game, the career mode, was anything but realistic (having to combine English teams with other teams from around the world to form a league, AKA the Master League), I kept playing.

But each year I found myself becoming more frustrated, to the point of writing letters to Konami, begging for more to be added to the game. If you’re the kind of hardcore gamer who won the Master League back when the game was on the PSone (two console-generations ago), along with every other competition in the game, what was there for you in each new version? Yes the gameplay might be tweaked, but it was becoming evident that the CPU had started to “cheat” in certain ways to keep the game from being too easy – limiting your control of your player, causing every tackle by the sideline to result in a throw to the opposition, and lots more – and on top of that, do you really want to start what you’ve already accomplished all over again just so that you can win again in a slightly tweaked, more realistic way?

Well, some people did, but I didn’t, and things changed. Over the last eight years, I would be the first to suggest a game of Pro Evo with mates, but suddenly I was making excuses to get out of it. Then one day, after a game of football at the local park, I came home to see a FIFA 07 demo available on the Xbox 360’s Marketplace. “I wonder what’s happening with FIFA”, I thought, only to be absolutely amazed when the game’s arena was presented to me. Here I was weighting balls and aiming shots, like I was just half an hour before, but for real. No players on rails, no CPU cheats, football with no constraints. The full game contained some disappointing bugs, however, but UEFA Champions League 06-07 addressed these, and the game felt completely fresh, and brilliant. It was like playing SWOS all over again, except for one thing… Lower-leagues, present on the current-gen versions of FIFA, weren’t there on the next-gen version (which has far superior gameplay, including the physics engine).

So the FIFA 08 demo comes out, and I’m expecting a reworked version of UEFA Champions League 06-07. How wrong I was. I will post my first impressions in a seperate article, following shortly after this one, but to be blunt, I was amazed. I’m now known on Evo-Web as the guy who has scored one goal in his last 100 games of the FIFA 08 demo, because adapting to this new (and completely realistic) style of play is a big task. You can’t just pass to a fast player and dominate the game any more, those defenders are onto you. But I’m also happy because, saints be praised… There are thirty leagues in FIFA 08, including the English Premier League down to League Two. So now, you can have a quick league with your favourite Premiership team, AND a career mode game with a lower-league team that lasts you years – as well as playing in the many other game modes with the many other teams (leagues, cups, custom tournaments, online leagues, and even more). Leaving the house for long periods of time is going to become very difficult.

So, now that we know each other, let’s get on with what we’re here for! News, reviews, media, we’re going to have a lot over the coming weeks. And it starts right now, with my first impressions of the FIFA 08 demo. Keep your eyes peeled.

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